Porter trial: Witness heard, saw gunshots that killed Obediah Hester

Porter trial: Witness heard, saw gunshots that killed Obediah Hester

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The pre-trial hearing that precedes the murder trial of Nashid Porter continued Friday. He is charged in the 2012 shooting death of Brian Grant.

The State wants to enter evidence before the jury that shows the defendant has committed other bad acts. In this case, the prosecution wants to tell the jury that Porter is being tried in Duplin County for the murder of Obediah Hester, who was named as a prosecution witness in the Grant murder case.

First Witness

The first witness called Friday was Benjamin Patrick. He was with Obediah Hester the night he was shot and killed.

Patrick told the judge he would pick up Hester and another man in Wilmington and drive to their job at the House of Raeford meat processing plant in Duplin County.

While on their way to work on Nov 12, 2014, Patrick testified he saw Nashid Porter standing on the side of the highway.

Patrick said he grew up in the Creekwood area and knew Porter from his time there.

"I turned around and pulled over to talk to him," Patrick stated. He said when Porter noticed Obediah Hester in the back seat, he had a strange look on his face.

"I seen the crazy look in his eyes," Porter testified.

He said Porter asked them to come over to his home when they got off of work. Patrick said at first he wasn't sure, because he knew about the turmoil that surrounded Hester and Porter.

Hester gave details to investigators in 2012 when Porter was charged with the murder of Brian Grant.

Patrick said Hester assured him that they were on good terms, so Patrick told Porter they would see him later that night.

He said they arrived to Porter's home around 7 p.m. He went to the door, and Porter asked him if he would drive him to his father's house. Patrick agreed, so Porter joined the three men in the truck.

When he pulled into the driveway, Patrick said something didn't feel right. He said the trailer looked abandoned. Porter asked Obediah Hester to step out of the car and go with him. Obediah obliged.

"He gave me this weird look," Patrick said, referring to Obediah. He told the judge he couldn't explain the look, just that it wasn't a good one.

He said less than a minute went by before he heard gunshots, and saw Hester running away as Porter shot at him.

"I couldn't see the gun, but I could see the fire coming from it when he shot," Patrick testified.

He said it appeared as though Hester was trying to get to the car.

"He fell, and Nashid stood over him and kept shooting," Patrick said.

He testified that the other man who was with was yelling for him to leave the area, so he said he put the car into reverse and drove to Hester's grandmother's house.

She called 9-1-1 when he told her what happened.

He said he didn't call 9-1-1 immediately, or on the drive from Wallace to Wilmington, because he was "in too much shock." He said he left Obediah at the scene because he knew he hadn't survived.

The State played the 9-1-1 call for the court. First, Hester's grandmother could be heard telling the operator her grandson had been shot. Then, she handed the phone over to Patrick to give the details. He told the operator the same story he told the judge.

When the operator asked Patrick if he knew who the suspect was, he confirmed that he did.

"Nashid," Patrick said.

Second Witness

The State called Loida Gomez as their second witness.

She works in human resources at the House of Raeford meat processing plant. She provided the court with the timesheets of Benjamin Patrick, Obediah Hester, and the other friend for Nov 12, 2014.

The timesheets showed they all clocked out around 6:15 p.m.

Third Witness

The State's third witness called Friday was Detective Susan Holland, a detective with the Duplin County Sheriff's Office. She is investigating the murder of Obediah Hester.

She testified that Hester was shot 11 times, but an autopsy showed the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. While processing the crime scene, investigators found a cinder block near Obediah's body, which they determined was what damaged his skull.

After examining shell casings, she could tell a 40-caliber gun was used.

She said at the time, she had no idea Porter was on pre-trial release in New Hanover County, charged with the murder of Brian Grant. Once she realized, she immediately notified the pre-trial release program and was told Porter's electronic monitoring device had been cut off.

The device was equipped with GPS, so investigators were able to track it to Porter's residence. He was not there.

With the help of the US Marshals and cellphone tracking, they were able to apprehend Porter in an abandoned trailer near his home in Duplin County. He had barricaded himself inside, without water, electricity, or heat.

Holland told the District Attorney it appeared as though he was hiding out.

Fourth Witness

Michelle Taylor was the State's fourth witness. She is the program manager for New Hanover County pre-trial release services.

She said Porter became part of the program in Feb 2014. The conditions of his release were electronic monitoring unless he was working, and he couldn't have any contact with witnesses.

She said she received a notice on Nov 12, 2014 from the Duplin County Sheriff's Office that Porter had possibly violated his pre-trial release. Taylor said she could tell his electronic monitoring device had been tampered when a notice came in at 8:56 p.m.

The State played a video for the court that visually depicted Porter's movement from the GPS on his monitoring device the night of Nov 12. It showed a map with pin points that would drop as he traveled. It showed him leaving his house at 6:48 p.m. and arriving at the crime scene a few minutes later. He made several movements in the area of the crime scene, and then returned home.

Fifth Witness

The State's final witness for the day was Detective Lee Odham with the Wilmington Police Department. He is the lead investigator in the murder case of Brian Grant.

He told Judge Chuck Henry that when he arrived at the crime scene, Grant appeared to have been shot inside his home. He had one gunshot wound inside his nose. He said the wound appeared to have been immediately fatal.

Investigators processed the crime scene and collected items from the home for DNA testing. SBI evaluation showed all DNA belonged to the victim.

Odham said police called Grant's girlfriend to leave work and come to the scene. She told investigators Grant had driven her to work that morning. When they were pulling out of the driveway, she noticed Porter standing in yard looking at them "in an aggressive manner."

Next, police spoke with Obediah Hester and Patrick Bragg. At the time, neither had many details.

A neighbor told investigators she heard gunshots outside, then saw a man skipping to an older-model, black car and driving away. Her boyfriend corroborated her story.

Odham said another woman told him she had known Porter for years and saw him walking toward Grant's home. She said she heard a gunshot, saw Porter leave the home with a gun in his hand, and get into a black car.

Hester later told detectives Porter was a distant relative of his who was staying at his home the night before the shooting. The two were supposed to go to Boseman's to buy some shoes, but Porter ended up staying behind.

He also said he saw Porter in possession of a revolver, but on a different occasion.

Odham said WPD sent an order for Porter's arrest for first degree murder to surrounding counties. They apprehended him in Fayetteville on Sept 4, 2012 after tracking his cellphone. Odham said he had "a couple thousand bucks" on him when he was arrested.

The hearing wrapped up Friday afternoon. The judge said he will review the materials over the weekend and give Porter a chance to respond on Monday before he makes his ruling.

Court will reconvene at 11 a.m. on Monday and the trial will begin at 1:30 p.m.

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